Nuggets from first-half performance on offense

Quarterback Tom Brady directed the first-team offense on four drives and a total of 24 snaps in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Eagles.

Looking back over the positional groupings and snap counts, here are a few observations:

  • Of the 24 snaps, 17 came out of the base three-receiver package. The primary receiver grouping was Randy Moss, Joey Galloway and Julian Edelman, and the receivers often lined up in different spots. For example, on one first-quarter play, they all lined up to the right side, giving tight end Chris Baker the entire left side of the field in a one-on-one matchup (9-yard gain). Part of the coaching agenda seemed to be getting Galloway and Edelman – who are both new to the offense – comfortable with all the different spots and alignments they could be part of in the base package.
  • Three snaps came out of the three tight end set, with the most significant coming on third-and-1 from the Eagles’ 9. With Chris Baker, David Thomas and Alex Smith on the field, the Patriots moved the chains for a tough first down. The other two first-half plays with three tight ends were not as successful (no gain, 1 yard) in the running game.
  • Chris Baker’s presence in the two-minute offense in the second quarter shouldn’t be overlooked. The two-minute is a Patriots’ staple and the tight end in that package is usually Benjamin Watson. I didn’t initially project Baker as a fit in that package, thinking he didn’t run as well as Watson, but Baker is clearly an option, an effective one. He looks like the team’s top tight end at this point.
  • Tom Brady was in the shotgun on 16 of the 24 snaps. Of his 15 pass attempts, two came out of the standard drop from center.
  • With no traditional fullback on the roster, David Thomas lined up in the backfield as a lead blocker four times in the first half.
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